How to develop the connected stadium fan experience

If you’re building for the future – it’s good to start with a building for the future

This statement was made in an article within the latest stadium tech report. The report is a great mingle-mangle of ideas and best practices for your club’s connected stadium. Recent case studies, like the one about the Sacramento Kings’ new Golden 1 Center, tell us that among the many got-to-have features of a connected arenas, the high-quality wireless connectivity and multiple mobile device-based services, including food ordering and delivery, map-based parking, way-finding help, and digital ticketing have become the benchmark.

So with the infrastructure no longer being the limiting factor, it becomes even more important to create services, that shape a great fan experience on gamedays. Obviously, such services mainly have to work with the visitors mobile phones (we wrote about some ideas in this post) and have to be personalized (another post), but mobile devices are far from being the only potential channel as clubs also run multiple screens from scoreboards, perimeter until TVs. In the end it all comes down in one essential question:

How do we find the most beneficial digital services, the ones that make a gameday fan experience great?

To answer this question we want to present a method. The method originated in a project of Futurice, a finnish digital agency, and later was made public as the IoT Service Kit, which is a multiplayer board game with wich you are able to find the digital services. Here is how it works.

So how do you apply the service kit to find digital services for the connected stadium? We made one extension to the original service kit, that is to say the basic playground of the game. In it’s basic version, there is a public park, a conference building, a connected office, a neighborhood, but no stadium. Hence, we created a stadium as a baseline of service design. Here it is:

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-15-50-44As a next step, you need a specific problem, a hypothesis or a guiding question. These should be driven by business and might sound like:

  • How can we sell more merchandise on a gameday?
  • How can we make sure a family visit to the stadium is unstressed?
  • How can we be a perfect marketing hub for all of our sponsors?

Having set the playground and deciding on the guiding question we’ll now start playing the board-game, i.e. play cards. These cards are included in the IoT service kit and cover various categories. You can play with:

  • Sensor-Cards: sound, temperature, distance, infrared, beacon, motion or light sensors tell us a lot about certain situations (from how loud, or brights it is until where people are or move,etc.)
  • Interaction-Cards: interactive elements can be screens (like an ad display), but also cameras, speakers, lights, urban furniture, or check-in gates.
  • User-Cards is the stuff the user carries like the mobile phone, his vehicle, smartwatch or special equipment (like a wheelchair)
  • Open-API-Cards cover information from official services like teh weather, traffic, parking info, tourism info or security infos
  • Service-Cards summarize the public services like waste, electricity or  water management, but also 3rd party services, emergency and medical help as well as fire department or police.

The good thing about the game is, that there are no further rules. Hence, the goal is to sketch out your digital service ideas to the board, using the given cards (or self made joker cards). Like the following example:

“If we would place screens (interaction card) directly behind the entrance gates/ security check (interaction-card), where users can check in with the ticket on their mobile phones/ ticketing app (user-card), then it would be cool if the screen (interaction-card) presents a personal welcome message to the visitor.”

Ideas like this now are on the table and hence, are free to be enhanced or combined. This is a good point to reconsider our guiding question. If it is to sell more merchandise the screen might say:

“Welcome to the stadium Thomas. Did you know that your ticket includes a 10% discount on all fan-shirts?”

As if the guiding question is to become a marketing hub it might say:

“Hey Thomas, great to see you at the stadium. We still serve your favorite beer. Get 3 for 2 during the second halftime.”

Of course, those are just random examples. We did play the service design game for 30 minutes and already came up with >50 ideas for services that would bridge the gap between club sponsors and fans. Here’s a snippet of our outcome (click on the pictures to see some ideas in detail).

Some final thoughts: We think the IoT service kit is a great way to identify the true potential of your connected stadiums infrastructure. And we hope you agree, that it feels like a waste if clubs invest in connectivity but lack on cool services that are built upon the connectivity. Please mail us if you want to use our designed playground.